The Rugby Championship
Ralepelle ruled out of Pumas Tests
ESPN Staff
August 15, 2012
Chiliboy Ralepelle of the Bulls tries to shift a tyre during a gruelling pre-season session, Loftus Versveld, Pretoria, South Africa, November 30, 2011
Chiliboy Ralepelle will sit out the Boks' first two Tests © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Andries Bekker | Chiliboy Ralepelle
Tournaments/Tours: Rugby Championship
Teams: South Africa

The Springboks have been hit with a second injury blow in the space of 24 hours with the news that hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle will miss the opening two games of the Rugby Championship.

While Bismarck du Plessis is expected to be their number one hooker for the competition, Ralepelle would have provided key cover from the bench but he has withdrawn due to a knee injury. Stormers hooker Tiaan Liebenberg has come into the squad in Ralepelle's place.

But one man the Springboks are banking on is second-row Andries Bekker. The second-row has endured a torrid 24 months laced with injury but Boks forwards coach Johan van Graan believes that now is the time for Bekker to step into the void left by the retired Victor Matfield and France-based Bakkies Botha.

"Victor was a once-in-a-lifetime player. He brought new ideas to lineout play and, as a result, his record speaks for itself," van Graan told sportlive. "In my opinion, the 2010 Super Rugby final in Soweto [between the Bulls and Stormers] pitted the two best lineout jumpers in the game against each other at that stage. Andries [Bekker] has had some injuries since, but now it's time for him to make his mark.

"Andries brings experience and stability to our set-up. Credit must go to Juandre Kruger, who ran the lineout well against England in a short time. In 2010 and 2011 Andries showed his potential to become one of the great locks of all time.

"I haven't worked with him a lot but I've been very impressed. He is extremely tall, which is a self-evident benefit, he understands the workings of lineouts and as a technical decision-maker, he has come to the fore.

"There's good competition between him and Juandre, which is a good thing, as is the fact that they've both been under Victor's wing at different stages of their careers."

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